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Animal sacrifices in 2009

Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on April 11, 2009

Rabbit for dinner

Rabbit for dinner

Joseph Serna – Daily Pilot


A Newport Beach city worker happened upon a startling find Monday morning off the coast when he opened a bag that had washed up and found beheaded and dismembered animals inside.

Authorities speculate the bag was the remnants of a Santería religious ceremony, which includes animal sacrifice. About 7:20 a.m. Monday the city worker found a bag in the surf off 24th Street and West Ocean Front and pulled it out of the water. He found a hoof and bird legs poking out of it, and when he opened it up completely, found a beheaded and dismembered black and white goat along with two headless chickens and some vegetables, Lt. Craig Fox said.

The bag was the first of two situations city employees faced Monday as others found a dead duck and chicken caught in the kelp off the jetty near 28th Street with their throats cut, officials said.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Santería (“The Way of the Saints” in Spanish) is a religion developed in Cuba in the early 19th century when the people of the Yoruban nations of West Africa were taken to the island as slaves. The name Santería comes from the contacts some devotees made between the original Yoruba deities and the Roman Catholic saints. The religion is based upon the individual’s relationship with the gods, which is developed through divination, mediums and sacrifice. Often a sacrifice, such as an animal, is required to talk to an oracle, or a trained priest.

Michael Rodriguez, a native of Haiti who works at Botanica Santa Martha, a Santa Ana shop that sells items for people who practice Santería, said sacrifices are made to cleanse the body of bad spirits.

Cases of sacrificed animals have been popping up in Newport Beach lately, officials said.

Besides Monday’s incident, animal control officers came upon three dead rabbits off a walking trail in the Back Bay on Thursday, police said. Thursday afternoon an animal control officer found three black rabbits dead off the road in the grass on the west side of Back Bay Drive near San Joaquin Hills Road.

The three adult animals did not have any visible signs of injury, Fox said.

The morning of March 23, police received a call of suspicious circumstances at Castaways Park by landscape workers there. When police arrived, they found more apparent sacrifices 20 yards off the beaten path.

Authorities found a jar filled with a dark liquid, crushed peppers and packed with a dead, black chicken with a cut neck. The jar reeked of vinegar, police said.

Though the visuals may be startling for children, police said, outside of that there’s nothing particularly wrong with the three incidents.

“It’s something we’ve seen before and something other cities have dealt with before,” Fox said. “It’s not of great concern to us obviously from the law-enforcement side.”

There’s possibly a violation in disposing of animals in public places, but outside of that, it’s clear those practicing the religion are aiming to keep it discreet, he said.

“We respect people’s rights to pursue their religious beliefs,” he said.

The 1993 Supreme Court case Church of the Lukumi Babalu v. The City of Hialeah upheld devotees’ rights to sacrifice animals.

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